Argentine Tango School

Dancing at milongas.

Seven tips for women who want to dance more in the milonga.

Written by Marcelo Castelo and published in ArgenTango magazine #2.

Translated by Olga Matveeva

Dancing at milongas | Argentine TangoThroughout the years, milonga organizers have heard continuous complaints from women: “Tonight I danced very little”, “There are no men”, or “I am not asked to dance”.

The reality is, in general, in many milongas the quantity of women is larger than men.

Adding that the men also take breaks between tandas to get a drink or perhaps smoke a cigarette lowers the women’s possibility of getting a dance. However, women also wonder: what do they contribute from their part to the fact that they dance less or more?

To help all those women, here are some suggestions that, albeit obvious, are worth repeating and would perhaps increase their possibility of dancing in the milonga.

1) Learn to look

It is known that in the traditional milonga, the invitation is made by the man employing cabeceo.

So it is essential for the woman to learn to observe and notice these looks and gestures.

Sometimes we see women at the beginning of the tanda getting distracted, not paying attention to the man’s signals, so the latter changes his mind and invites someone else.

In other cases, for shyness or intimidation, women refuse to look directly at men and end up sitting. Hence, stay alert under the men’s glances, especially at the beginning of each tanda.

2) Put on your best face

A milonga is a place where people want to relax and forget their everyday problems.

For that reason, men will keep away from a woman with a sour facial expression.

Your most attractive feature is your smile.

Be in a happy mood; others will perceive it. A good moment to show your cheerful disposition would be a salsa break. In my personal opinion, this is the most critical advice.

3) Care where you sit in the room

Often women ask to be seated in places far from being the best to get more dances.

Being in the first row, closest to the dance floor is not always the best.

When no men are on the sides or in front within a reasonable distance, women will have to wait until someone walks closer to their table.

Once you get a seat, study the best angle to direct the glances at prospective partners.

4) Do not always expect the best

That one illustrates very well the paradox of the dancer: the better one learns to dance, the fewer possibilities occur to apply it for the lack of suitable partners.

It is inevitable one wishes to dance with somebody better than him/her, but if it were always the case, nobody would ever dance with anyone!

Try to go to the milonga with no expectations beyond having some good time, and do not get super selective with the occasional partners.

Also, dancing is not everything; let’s not reject the opportunity to meet interesting people just because they do not fulfill our expectations as dancers.

5) Improve your dance level; take lessons

A recurrent saying among milongueros is that everyone believes to be a better dancer than he or she is.

It does not matter what you think about your dance level; it matters what your partners think.

When one dances better, she gets invited more. Therefore, take lessons!

6) To be and to appear

Any woman who frequents the milongas cannot help but notice: when a well-dressed man enters, wearing an elegant dark suit, and impeccable shoes, he always attracts women’s attention.

The same goes for women. Hence, if you go to a milonga where people don’t know you, the better your look, the chances are that someone will invite you to dance.

Dressing with elegance, carrying yourself with poise, behaving like a milonguera will secure you a number of invitations to the dance floor.

Of course, all that has to come with a decent level of dance.

7) Become a regular

If you jump a lot from one milonga to another, know that you always have to pay “the floor due” before people start recognizing you.

Men tend to invite partners they know, otherwise they wait for someone else to ask a woman, so they can observe her dance level.

Upon entering the milonga, greet the men you had danced with in other places.

Becoming a regular in a place is the most convenient way of securing dance invitations (providing you pay attention to all the above-mentioned advice).

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Marcelo Solis

I was born in Argentina. Through my family and the community that saw my upbringing, I have been intimately involved with the culture of Tango all my life, and have been an Argentine Tango dance performer, choreographer and instructor for over 30 years. I profoundly love Tango dancing, music, and culture, particularly that of the Golden Era. I am a milonguero.

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